Those 79 games Kelly Johnson played in left field in 2005 for the Atlanta Braves were as important to the Tampa Bay Rays as the 787 games Johnson played at second base during the past six seasons.
Like most infielders who join the team, Johnson will be asked to wear many gloves this season, including one suited for playing left field.
"The reason we kept going (in negotiations) was my openness to do that. I'm absolutely open to do that. I'm excited. I expect to see time in the outfield, second base," Johnson said Tuesday night.
Earlier in the day, the Rays officially announced the one-year contracts with Johnson and reliever Kyle Farnsworth. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated infielders Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson for assignment.
Farnsworth, who pitched in 97 games for the Rays during the past two seasons, will make $1.25 million plus incentives in 2013. He said he drew interest from several teams and received a strong offer from another but he chose to return to the Rays because he wanted to continue to pitch close to his Celebration home.
Farnsworth, who missed nearly the first half of 2012 because of a right elbow strain that also forced him to miss two weeks in September 2011, said his elbow feels fine.
"My arm feels real good right now," he said. "I've been throwing my sliders right now, and everything feels good. As far as that stuff, everything feels as good as it ever has."
Johnson, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in August 2011, will make $2.45 million plus incentives in 2013.
"We're excited about what Kelly is capable of doing," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "I think he'd be the first to say that last year was a down year. We think he has a chance to be a really good addition and provide a lot of value for us offensively and also with impending versatility defensively."
The left-handed-hitting Johnson batted .284 with 21 home runs for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010. He hit .222 in 2011 and .225 last year.
Johnson ready to chip in for Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Tribune | Feb 6